58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

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shemp
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58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by shemp » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:27 pm

I've been lurking here for years but never posted before.

I'm 58 yo now, born in USA and still live there part of year. Semi-retired from corporate job as computer programmer at age 34, then ran very profitable home business for a few years selling computer programs I had written. Fully retired at age 38. Been traveling past 20 years: hiking town to town in Europe, bicycle touring in the USA, sometimes camping, sometimes in hotels, sometimes in weekly apartments for months at a time.

Smartphones have truly revolutionized travel since my first trip to Europe 20 years ago: ebooks instead of heavy paper books, huge library of music available at all times, GPS mapping versus paper maps and guidebooks, booking.com for hotels, Google translate, high speed internet access anywhere with mobile signals, etc. Everything much easier now. As for the future, it occurs to me that perma-travel like I do now may someday be impossible, such as because of pandemics that cause shutdown of most passenger air travel and for whole counties to be quarantined. Not sure what I'll do if that happens. Probably pick some small town somewhere to settle down in.

Early retirement was my only goal of significance in life. I never liked school and hated work even more. Since I'm cautious, I accumulated more than I needed to be financially independent, and now my income/gains from stocks and bonds is more than I can spend, since I continue to be frugal by old habit. Had a few girlfriends over the years but mostly lived alone. Never married or had kids, so should be plenty in my estate when I die. Excellent health and relatives mostly long-lived, so good chance I'll live another 40 years.

Another old habit is keeping track of spending. Originally, I tracked details, but now just yearly summary: beginning of year checking balance less end of year balance, plus deposits into checking from investment account. I don't count income taxes as spending. Expenses for past 5 years (2014-2018): $23707, $22849, $19182, $22629, $20974. I estimate maybe 40% of those expenses is lodging. No medical insurance and very low medical/dental expenses. Maybe $1500/year airfare and bus travel. Maybe $1500 for storage locker in the USA (where I keep a bicycle and spare travel gear), mailbox service, mobile phone service and similar recurring expenses. Varying amounts for sugar babies and similar paid girlfriends: about $5000 last year and projecting about $6500 this year. This buys quite a bit of female companionship in cheaper areas, plus there is a limit to what I can spend in this category because I'm constantly moving, selective about who I have sex with, and prefer solitude most of the time.

Objectively viewed, my life is pretty barren, but I suppose that's what I want and always have wanted, since nothing is now or ever has been stopping me from living differently. I would call myself very happy. Whenever I try to add excitement to my life, such as with those girlfriends, it usually backfires and makes me feel less happy. So then I revert to my usual comfortable solitude until boredom again provokes me to add excitement. Probably just an extreme case of the universal human condition.

bigato
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by bigato » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:08 pm

Very cool! Congratulations on a strategy successfully executed! I'd not call your life barren by any measure. You are just consciously focusing on what you want out of it. Actually I can relate, you could be me in an alternate universe. Funnily enough, I'm 38 now and with a bit of luck, will retire in a couple of months.

FIRE 2018
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by FIRE 2018 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:33 pm

You state you have no medical insurance. Regardless of age, an extended hospital stay and recovery can financially wipe you out.

cimorene12
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:13 pm

There are countries where it makes more sense to just pay out of pocket for medical costs. The US is obviously not one of them, but it's a viable option depending on where you are.

wolf
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by wolf » Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:34 am

Welcome shemp! Thanks for the introduction. Have a good time here on the ERE forum!

FIRE 2018
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by FIRE 2018 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 3:14 am

@cimorene12

Interested to know out of pocket costs for long term illness outside USA?

bigato
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by bigato » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:15 am

In Brazil, Canada or UK, zero

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Stahlmann
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by Stahlmann » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:49 am

well.. if you somehow tied to their system (citizenship, spouse, connections).

bigato
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by bigato » Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:18 am

I don't know the particulars of Canada, UK and others, but in Brazil you get free medical assistance for everybody inside our borders regardless of citizenship

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Stahlmann
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by Stahlmann » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:26 am

tbh, I mostly have straw-man experience based on internet comics with paid systems, but I think... nowadays you gonna get help in any 1st/2nd world, but the question is how high the bill will be and how effective is the system in taking the money from you. bigato, care to elaborate situation in Brazil? it would be interesting in having next data point in my collection.

Wiki'ed "long term illness" redirected me to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_condition

hmm. I don't know how popular dodging dying people is popular in paid systems. we prolly don't know, because it's hot potato issue :lol:.

in semi-serious cases you go to ER and ask/beg for help. I think it solves many problems.
not being served during stroke/heart attack by ambulance? it must suck.

in case of drugs (for arthritis, asthma, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and some viral diseases such as hepatitis C and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) ... I hope it's possible to import (illegally) cheap generics from India/China without getting caught up.

I worry that for example in current system (in my country) you don't pay and wait 2-3 month for a visit or you pay 50$ (for 15 minute "consultation" -.-') and wait 2-8 weeks. The price can change to 100-150$ with current lack of medical staff. Scary stuff,

I know somebody well off (even for standards of cosmopolitan bourgeois elite like here) who decided to take part in clinical trials in exchange for free/cheaper drugs.

on the other hand, in my Potatoland, somebody took and left in different city Ukrainian immigrant while she was having stroke, because the guy (business owner) didn't want to have problems. that was stupid -.-". this adds a little bit of uncertainty to my emigration.

also, somebody got (prolly deadly) smashed by heavy object in nearby of my shop on Friday. holy shit :(.

anyway, general idea of access to health care while "not being slave to the system" is very interesting problem.

OP, sorry for derailing you topic, I wish you the best and have nice time here. I also plan to work for 15-20-25 years while not being part of 10%ers. Then? I don't know.

FIRE 2018
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by FIRE 2018 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:39 am

OP stated he has been with no health insurance for the last 20 years. Warrants good discussion on the " what ifs". In the USA we work hard, save, invest and we still worry about health care and the rising costs. Must be nice in some socialist nations where the state takes care of their flock in case of illness. The quality of care is another story...

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Bankai
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by Bankai » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:57 am

FIRE 2018 wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:39 am
Must be nice in some socialist nations where the state takes care of their flock in case of illness. The quality of care is another story...
If we look at the simplest metric (life expectancy), those socialist nations (Europe) are actually doing rather well compared with US.

bigato
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by bigato » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:23 pm

Stahlmann: no bills at all. In smaller cities, private hospitals don't even exist because they wouldn't be able to compete. In bigger cities, you may have to wait in queue if you are not considered emergency. I heard it works a bit like this in Canada, although they probably have much higher standards than us. I've been to both private a public in Brazil, and I wouldn't pay for private medical insurance.
I see insurance as a protection for bankruptcy. Say you got in an accident and are delivered to intensive care unit. One day there would cost me one year of expenses. It's no joke. I can't decide not to go both because I may die but also because I am likely unconscious. This is where insurance kicks in. Now, heart attack? Diabetes? Cancer? Seriously? Only a very small percentage of those cases have some genetic component that is beyond your control. All the rest are lifestyle diseases, plain and simple, so you get what you asked for. I'm comfortable having the option to call it quits in a situation that is hopeless, if I am conscious and able to take that decision.
Regarding the comments about socialist countries, last I heard, Cuba had much better health assistance than US, which is not a high bar anyway. Brazil is nowadays lead by a far-right president, best friends with Trump. UK is not exactly communist. So I don't see a correlation between medical insurance and being socialist, it's just US that has presently a poor public medical system which fails to support people who need the most, which sucks no matter your political inclinations. At least you guys have the concept of "high-deductible", which makes a lot more sense and self insure trivial stuff out of pocket anyway. It's not like FI people are living paycheck to paycheck. It's all a numbers game anyway, you just have to have the statistics on your favor.

FIRE 2018
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by FIRE 2018 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:37 pm

@ bigato

Are you serious? when you say Cuba has better health assistance than the USA. Maybe in rural Alabama or Mississippi. I've had friends visit Cuba. It's third world with palm trees and without the gun violence. One guy traveled to Cuba and gave a 6 pack of antibacterial soap as a gift to a girl he met on the beach. She was so happy. Let's just say he had a good time in Cuba.

shemp
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by shemp » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:30 am

Regarding health insurance. I actually have been uninsured since 1994, which is when I quit my corporate job, so 25 years. I spent about $15000 since then on dental work (cleanings, lots of crowns, one root canal), mostly in the USA, some in Ukraine recently. I spent $1300 for a vasectomy in the USA when I turned 55, and maybe $700 vaccinations and $1000 for blood tests over the years. Blood tests probably more entertainment than medical expense, since I knew I was healthy and was just curious to see my "numbers".

Meanwhile, medical insurance, without dental and with $5000 deductible, would have averaged at least $5000/year those 25 years. So 25 * $5000 less the $3000 out-of-pocket expenses listed above plus some investment gains means I'm ahead by at least $150K so far. Which should pay for at least one emergency over the $5000 deductible, especially outside the USA. Also, I didn't give my current net worth, but let's just say $1 million in medical costs wouldn't affect me.

I thought several times about getting medical insurance and I'm not sure why I don't. Maybe a superstition that if I do get insurance, I'll need it (get injured or sick, in other words). I plan to enroll in Medicare when eligible (in about 6.5 more years), even though I won't be able to use it if living mostly outside the USA. Again, probably superstition rather than logic controlling my thinking, but this time the opposite direction: if I refuse Medicare, I'll get injured/sick.

Also, I'm somewhat skeptical of medical care. There are some things it does really well, but a lot of it is useless or even harmful, in my opinion. Interesting stories. I was born with a difficult delivery in 1961. Doctor used big forceps to grab my head and yank me out. This flattened my skull, so he pushed it back together by hand to make it round again. I once saw a rancher do something similar: tied a rope to calf coming out feet first, tied other end to tractor, then put tractor in reverse and hit gas pedal, dragging cow and calf down the field until calf popped out. Both cow and calf seemed exhausted by ordeal, but they survived. I had a broken arm in 1968, plus lots of stitches as boy. All this is 50 year or older technology and yet even they most primitive hospitals in Eastern Europe have 50 year old technology. My parents had to make do with even more primitive medical care growing up. Meanwhile, the most modern USA spine surgeons don't seem to be accomplishing anything with their high-tech interventions besides making patients sicker. And don't get me started on the type 2 diabetes and obesity "epidemics". I know I'm cherry picking examples here, but something to think about.

Another factor is that, because I have no medical insurance, I am doubly careful to avoid injuries. For example, I'm not a natural physical coward, so might not back down from a fist fight out of physical fear, whereas the prospect of paying to wire up a broken jaw serves as a good reason to run away when challenged. Likewise, thought of losing money is a way to make myself extra safety conscious when hiking or bicycle touring.

FRx
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by FRx » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:00 am

Great story @shemp, thanks for sharing it. It's incredible that you created this exciting journey for yourself by just not doing what everyone else was doing. Very cool.

Also, you calculated what health insurance would have cost you had paid for it all these years. What you didn't factor for is that you likely would have used it because you were paying for it and that would have likely negatively impacted your health and you would have spent more money on trying to get better.

This is coming from a UCLA trained physician - I'm not talking out of my ass. I agree that there are a few things we can do quite well in medicine: certain immunizations, trauma surgery, and a few infections. Everything else is a crapshoot and the data is so scrubbed and murky that even we don't know what's really happening.

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Ego
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by Ego » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:02 pm

FRx wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:00 am
This is coming from a UCLA trained physician - I'm not talking out of my ass. I agree that there are a few things we can do quite well in medicine: certain immunizations, trauma surgery, and a few infections. Everything else is a crapshoot and the data is so scrubbed and murky that even we don't know what's really happening.
I stopped talking (out of my ass) about this in real life because people thought I was suffering a form of medical psychosis. Not that I care. It is hard to discuss avoiding health insurance or avoiding medical professionals in general within earshot of anyone who is even a moderate healthcare user. They take it personally and get hurt feelings.

We were uninsured for about 15 or 16 year and now we act as if we are uninsured for a number of reasons:

Iatrogenics.
Moral hazards.
Morale hazards.
Psychoneuroimmuniology.
Risk pooling.
The placebo effect.
Tension Myositis Syndrome.
Not wishing to support or participate in a profoundly broken system.

Mostly it is a subconscious je ne sais quoi that I believe keeps me from getting sick or injured because I "can't". Maybe I am tempting fate. Who knows.

classical_Liberal
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:06 pm

@FRx
I would add many cancer treatments/surgery if caught in early stages and acute coronary events to the list of things western medicine does very well. These are things that can extend life significantly with more limited interventions and maintain quality of life as well.

Edit:
@Ego
We cross posted a bit. However, I don't disagree with you. The key is knowing which things are concerning enough to pay attention to, and what to ignore. This is difficult to discern, even for medical professionals. Hence the over testing and over treatments we tend to have in the US system.

FYI I would consider "moderate" medical usage as once per year physical/blood work and/or going in for testing with significant symptom development. Very few people use the medical system moderately.
Last edited by classical_Liberal on Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

FRx
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by FRx » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:10 pm

@classical_Liberal
I would agree if it wasn't for the many overdiagnoses which are done of otherwise benign things which are then labeled as malignant. And the many end stage cancers for which we have no business intervening with medications and thus causing unnecessary suffering. So maybe that's a wash there.

Seppia
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Re: 58yo perma-traveler, retired at 38yo

Post by Seppia » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:36 pm

FIRE 2018 wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:39 am
Must be nice in some socialist nations where the state takes care of their flock in case of illness. The quality of care is another story...
As Bankai stated already, in Europe we have far better (and improving) life expectancy VS the USA (declining).
If you plot a "dollar spent per capita/life expectancy" graph the USA is THE outlier, and not in a good way: by far the highest expense, low life expectancy.

Image

I've lived for 5 years in the states and am from Europe, I would have zero doubt as to which system works better.
The American system has the hidden downside that, everything being for profit and covered by insurance, the tendency to over-treat is incredible.

I remember how flabbergasted DW and I were when the dentist told her at a yearly cleaning "everything is fine, let me check something in my computer. Oh! I notice you still have $2000 to spend on dental this year, let's do this a root canal"

We were like WTFFFFFFF?

Decided to hold off, went back to Italy to our dentist and he said it was totally unnecessary
5 years went by and still no root canal needed.

This is obviously an anecdote, but the data backs it up big time.

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